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'Should we disfigure you or kill you?'

In a grim reminder of how ruthless realty wars can become in this city, a man was severely disfigured, after he was attacked with acid yesterday. His family said he had a long-standing dispute with some builders. The victim, identified as Dudhnath Varma (50) was kidnapped in broad daylight from Jay Prakash Hotel, SV Road in Goregaon (E). 


Gruesome: Dudhnath Varma was beaten and doused in acid

At around 6 pm yesterday, unidentified assailants scheduled a meeting with Varma on the pretext of purchasing a flat in Mira Road. After arriving at the spot, Varma was suddenly forced into a car and taken to an unknown location, after which he was beaten and doused in acid. Varma was then abandoned in the middle of nowhere to fend for himself.

According to the victim’s advocate, Kamlesh Yadav, the assailants gave Varma a deadly choice. “They asked him, ‘Should we disfigure you or kill you?’ Varma told them he would prefer death. ‘It looks like you really value your face,’ they then said to him, before pouring acid in his eyes, ears and mouth.”

In Varma’s statement to police, he said he received a call on his mobile from a PCO while he was returning from the Bombay High Court. Claiming to be interested in a flat, the caller requested a meeting at Brahma Kumari Chowk in Goregaon. On arriving there, Varma was forced into a silver Innova, blindfolded and gagged at gunpoint. After beating him with hockey sticks and administering the acid, the men drove to Ghodbunder at around 10 pm, where they threw him in the forest, making off with his money and cell phone. There, he staggered around disoriented till Tuesday morning, when locals found him at around 5 am.

He was rushed to Bhagwati Hospital in a serious condition by the Kashi Mira police, where doctors say he is now stable. A doctor at the hospital said, “We are awaiting reports on the extent of damage to his hearing and vision.” According to Varma’s statement, the men told him he had created ‘problems’ for rival builders, and was now paying the price. Varma’s wife Anita said, “There has been a long standing dispute between my husband and these builders. I now fear for my children. They threaten to kill us every day.”

Yadav said, “Varma had given land to Ashish Developers in 1996 to construct a building under the SRA scheme (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) and was shifted to a transit camp. In 2011 he was again shifted, to which he objected.” After filing a suit at the Dindoshi court, Verma received an order for mediation. Yadav added, “Mediation was not possible as my client only received Rs 3 lakh for the settlement. This year we approached the Bombay High Court, which passed a stay order in Varma’s favour.”

The Kashi Mira police have registered an FIR against the director of Ashish Developers, identified as Dinesh Shah, the director of Ravi Ashish Developers, Ketan Shah and Jayesh Shah, and PM Developers director Mahesh Pongulekar, along with five other persons. A case has been registered under sections 363 (Kidnap-ping), 394 (Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. 

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